Review: Dave Kelly – Family & Friends – We Had It All

Posted on: Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013


Dave Kelly – Family & Friends – We Had It All

(Hypertension: HYP 13294)

I’ve long admired Dave Kelly as one of our finest bluesmen – a great guitarist, a lovely singer and both top ‘sideman’ and band leader in his own right. Here we have a career-spanning collection of 18 unreleased songs . . . indeed, they cover a whopping 43 years . . . and cover all bases, from blues to country, with a touch of gospel and more.

Kelly is as busy as ever, being a long-time member of The Blues Band, also working in a duo format with Paul Jones, and also fronting his own band . . . here he is in the company of folk from Howlin’ Wolf to Eric Bibb, the afore-mentioned Paul Jones to Long John Baldry, and also various blues, folk and jazz luminaries, and, as the album title suggests, his own children.

To be honest the 18 tracks barely contain any ‘filler’ but some stand out, such as the rip-roaring opener, “New Stockyard Blues” – a Robert Wilkins song recorded at a festival in Sweden with the Dave Kelly Band, including son Sam on drums; next up is a beautiful version of a traditional tune associated with Eric Bibb, the gorgeous “Needed Time” . . . just Dave Kelly on Dobro and Eric on vocals and guitar, recorded for radio in Lancashire.

We are taken back to the heady days of the late 60s for a long and rambling live Howlin’ Wolf track, with the John Dummer Band backing the late, great Mr. Chester Burnett on Robert Johnson’s “Dust My Blues” at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, with Dave Kelly on slide guitar and the ‘main man’ on trademark growling vocal and harmonica. He accompanies his late sister, Jo-Anne Kelly on “Ramblin’ Gal” . . . Hank Williams “Ramblin’ Man, with the gender swapped around to suit Jo’s version . . . a rehearsal performance from a planned album that sadly didn’t come to fruition before her death.

Other treats include the Nanci Griffith and James Booker song “Gulf Coast Highway”, with a vocal from the great Scottish singer Maggie Bell; a collaboration with a regular musical partner in the form of Christine Collister on the Tom Waits tune, “Way Down In The Hole”, with Dave’s son Homer Kelly-Tarrant on bass; and a sparkling duo performance with Paul Jones on harmonica at the famous Notodden Blues Festival in Norway on some great Muddy Waters in the shape of “Too Young To Know”.

It’s great to see the top British guitar player Sonny Black featured, as him and Dave Kelly jam on a traditional piece arranged by themselves, “Slide Guitar Rag”, recorded live at Bardies Blues Festival in France. The collection is brought right up to date with a lovely version of the title track, “We Had It All”, the Troy Seals and Donny Fritts classic recorded by Dobie Gray, with a lovely harmonica solo from Julian Dawson.

A thoroughly excellent collection and highly recommended!



Pete Evans

February 13th, 2013 at 21:55
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Dave is playing a solo gig at Worthenbury on June 15th